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Heinrich Liebe

German World War II U-boat commander
The basics
About
Occupation Korvettenkapitän Submariner
Country Germany
Date of birth Gotha
Date of death Jul 27, 1997 Eisenach
The details
Biography

Heinrich Liebe (29 January 1908 – 27 July 1997) was a German U-boat commander who served in the Kriegsmarine during World War II until transferred to Oberkommando der Marine (Naval High Command). He was credited in Nazi propaganda with sinking of 34 ships for a total of 187,267 gross register tons (GRT). He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany. It was the country's highest military decoration at the time of its presentation to Liebe.

Biography

Born in Gotha, Liebe began his Reichsmarine career in 1927. Promoted to Oberfähnrich zur See on 1 June 1931, Liebe served on the World War I battleship Schleswig-Holstein for four years. In September 1935, Liebe transferred to the U-boat arm.

On 1 October 1936, Liebe was promoted to Kapitänleutnant (lieutenant) and assigned commander of U-2, a Type II U-boat attached to the U-Bootschulflottille. On 24 October 1938, Liebe commissioned U-38, a Type IX U-boat assigned to 6th U-boat Flotilla.

World War II

U-38 embarked on her first war time patrol on 19 August 1939 from Wilhelmshaven. Operating off Lisbon, Portugal on the outbreak of war, Liebe managed to sink two British freighters before returning to port on 18 September. On 2 November, Liebe set sail for Norwegian water on his second patrol.

Liebes fourth patrol, on 8 April 1940 was also set in Norwegian waters, to support Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway. During this patrol, Liebe shared the same negative experience of failed torpedoes as many other u-boat captains operating in the area. In mid April 1940, Liebe fired on the British heavy cruiser Effingham, but all the torpedoes fired failed to detonate.

U-38 left on her fifth patrol on 6 June 1940, tasked with patrolling the Western Approaches off southern Ireland. Liebe managed to sink six ships during this patrol, and also succeeded in landing a German agent in Ireland on 12 June. During his sixth patrol, Liebe sank three ships, and were ordered to the new 6th U-boat Flotilla base in Lorient, France. During this patrol, on 14 August, Liebe received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

On 9 April 1941, Liebe set sail for operations off Freetown, Africa. This was Liebe's ninth and last patrol with U-38, during which he sank eight ships for a total of 47,279 GRT. For these successes, Liebe was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knight's Cross on 10 June 1941. On 29 June, U-38 returned to Lorient. The presentation was made on 30 June 1941 by Hitler at the Führer Headquarter Wolfsschanze (Wolf's Lair) in Rastenburg (now Kętrzyn in Poland). On 22 July, Liebe transferred off the U-38, which was put under the command of Heinrich Schuch.

Following his departure from U-38, Liebe was assigned to the staff of Oberkommando der Marine. In August 1944, he was transferred to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief of Submarines (Befehlshaber der Unterseeboote or BdU), Hans-Georg von Friedeburg, during which tenure he was promoted to Fregattenkapitän (frigate captain) on 1 October 1944.

After the war

After the war Liebe returned to his hometown in the Soviet sector to live with his parents. Since he refused to train Soviet submariners, he felt that was to blame for his being held to menial occupations. He died in July 1997 and is buried in Eisenach, Germany.

Summary of career

Ships attacked

As commander of U-38 Liebe was credited with the sinking of 34 commercial ships for 187,267 gross register tons (GRT), and damaged another of 3,670 GRT.

Date Ship Nationality Tonnage Fate and location
6 September 1939 Manaar  United Kingdom 7,242 sunk at 38°28′N 10°50′W / 38.467°N 10.833°W / 38.467; -10.833 (Manaar (ship))
11 September 1939 Inverliffey Republic of Ireland  United Kingdom 9,456 sunk at 48°14′N 11°48′W / 48.233°N 11.800°W / 48.233; -11.800 (Inverliffey (ship))
7 December 1939 Thomas Walton  United Kingdom 4,460 sunk at 67°52′N 14°28′E / 67.867°N 14.467°E / 67.867; 14.467 (Thomas Walton (ship))
11 December 1939 Garoufalia  Greece 4,708 sunk at 64°36′N 10°42′E / 64.600°N 10.700°E / 64.600; 10.700 (Garoufalia (ship))
13 December 1939 Deptford  United Kingdom 4,101 sunk at 62°15′N 05°08′E / 62.250°N 5.133°E / 62.250; 5.133 (Deptford (ship))
9 March 1940 Leukos  Ireland 216 sunk at 55°20′N 08°45′W / 55.333°N 8.750°W / 55.333; -8.750 (Leukos (ship))
17 March 1940 Argentina  Denmark 5,375 sunk at 60°47′N 00°30′W / 60.783°N 0.500°W / 60.783; -0.500 (Argentina (ship))
21 March 1940 Algier  Denmark 1,654 sunk at 60°17′N 02°49′W / 60.283°N 2.817°W / 60.283; -2.817 (Algier (ship))
21 March 1940 Christiansborg  Denmark 3,270 sunk at 60°17′N 02°49′W / 60.283°N 2.817°W / 60.283; -2.817 (Christiansborg (ship))
26 March 1940 Cometa  Norway 3,794 sunk at 60°06′N 04°36′W / 60.100°N 4.600°W / 60.100; -4.600 (Cometa (ship))
2 April 1940 Signe  Finland 1,540 sunk at 58°52′N 01°31′W / 58.867°N 1.517°W / 58.867; -1.517 (Signe (ship))
14 June 1940 Mount Myrto  Greece 5,403 sunk at 50°03′N 10°05′W / 50.050°N 10.083°W / 50.050; -10.083 (Mount Myrto (ship))
15 June 1940 Erik Boye  Canada 2,238 sunk at 50°37′N 08°44′W / 50.617°N 8.733°W / 50.617; -8.733 (Erik Boye (ship))
15 June 1940 Italia  Norway 9,973 sunk at 50°37′N 08°44′W / 50.617°N 8.733°W / 50.617; -8.733 (Italia (ship))
20 June 1940 Tilia Gorthon  Sweden 1,776 sunk at 48°32′N 06°20′W / 48.533°N 6.333°W / 48.533; -6.333 (Tilia Gorthon (ship))
21 June 1940 Luxembourg  Belgium 5,809 sunk at 47°25′N 04°55′W / 47.417°N 4.917°W / 47.417; -4.917 (Luxembourg (ship))
22 June 1940 Neion  Greece 5,154 sunk at 47°09′N 04°17′W / 47.150°N 4.283°W / 47.150; -4.283 (Neion (ship))
7 August 1940 Mohamed Ali El-Kebir  United Kingdom 7,529 sunk at 55°22′N 13°18′W / 55.367°N 13.300°W / 55.367; -13.300 (Mohamed Ali El-Kebir (ship))
11 August 1940 Llanfair  United Kingdom 4,966 sunk at 54°48′N 13°46′W / 54.800°N 13.767°W / 54.800; -13.767 (Llanfair (ship))
31 August 1940 Har Zion  United Kingdom 2,508 sunk at 56°20′N 10°00′W / 56.333°N 10.000°W / 56.333; -10.000 (Har Zion (ship))
1 October 1940 Highland Patriot  United Kingdom 14,172 sunk at 52°20′N 19°04′W / 52.333°N 19.067°W / 52.333; -19.067 (Highland Patriot (ship))
17 October 1940 Aenos  Greece 3,554 sunk at 59°00′N 13°00′W / 59.000°N 13.000°W / 59.000; -13.000 (Aenos (ship))
18 October 1940 Carsbreck  United Kingdom 3,670 damaged at 36°20′N 10°50′W / 36.333°N 10.833°W / 36.333; -10.833 (Carsbreck (ship))
19 October 1940 Bilderdijk  Netherlands 6,856 sunk at 56°35′N 17°15′W / 56.583°N 17.250°W / 56.583; -17.250 (Bilderdijk (ship))
19 October 1940 Matheran  United Kingdom 7,653 sunk at 57°00′N 17°00′W / 57.000°N 17.000°W / 57.000; -17.000 (Matheran (ship))
27 December 1940 Waiotira  United Kingdom 12,823 sunk at 58°10′N 16°56′W / 58.167°N 16.933°W / 58.167; -16.933 (Waiotira (ship))
31 December 1940 Valparaiso  Sweden 3,760 sunk at 60°01′N 23°00′W / 60.017°N 23.000°W / 60.017; -23.000 (Valparaiso (ship))
4 May 1941 Japan  Sweden 5,230 sunk at 09°50′N 17°50′W / 9.833°N 17.833°W / 9.833; -17.833 (Japan (ship))
5 May 1940 Queen Maud  United Kingdom 4,976 sunk at 07°54′N 16°41′W / 7.900°N 16.683°W / 7.900; -16.683 (Queen Maud (ship))
23 May 1940 Berhala  Netherlands 6,622 sunk at 09°50′N 17°50′W / 9.833°N 17.833°W / 9.833; -17.833 (Berhala (ship))
24 May 1941 Vulcain  United Kingdom 4,362 sunk at 09°20′N 15°35′W / 9.333°N 15.583°W / 9.333; -15.583 (Vulcain (ship))
29 May 1941 Tabaristan  United Kingdom 6,251 sunk at 06°32′N 15°23′W / 6.533°N 15.383°W / 6.533; -15.383 (Tabaristan (ship))
30 May 1941 Empire Protector  United Kingdom 6,181 sunk at 06°00′N 14°25′W / 6.000°N 14.417°W / 6.000; -14.417 (Empire Protector (ship))
31 May 1941 Rinda  Norway 6,029 sunk at 06°52′N 15°14′W / 6.867°N 15.233°W / 6.867; -15.233 (Rinda (ship))
8 June 1941 Kingston Hill  United Kingdom 7,628 sunk at 09°35′N 29°40′W / 9.583°N 29.667°W / 9.583; -29.667 (Kingston Hill (ship))

Awards

  • Wehrmacht Long Service Award 4th Class (2 October 1936)
  • Olympic Games Decoration (20 April 1937)
  • Iron Cross (1939) 2nd Class (8 October 1939) & 1st Class (6 April 1940)
  • U-boat War Badge (1939) (16 December 1939)
  • Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves
    • Knight's Cross on 14 August 1940 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-38
    • 13th Oak Leaves on 10 June 1941 as Kapitänleutnant and commander of U-38
  • Italian War Cross with Swords (2 December 1941)
  • War Merit Cross 2nd Class with Swords (3 September 1944)
  • Mentioned three times in the Wehrmachtbericht (5 July 1940, 31 May 1941 and 9 June 1941)


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